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How to reduce “Cybersecurity Engineer Burnout”

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Tim Bloomer, Sales Engineer at AlgoSec, shares key challenges security engineers are facing and available solutions

I recently read an article on Cybersecurity Skills shortages worldwide. Did you know that we have roughly over 4 Million openings that are not being filled? That number was over 1 Million more than last year, 1 Million!!

In another article Cybersecurity unemployment rate is at 0%. To me, that means they can get a job pretty much as quick or as often as they want. This made me think of the impact on the Cybersecurity Engineer and getting burned out in their jobs and how companies can help. 

I know from first-hand experience in the trenches from when I was working numerous hours. My wife would call me around 4:30-5:00 pm every day to remind me that it’s time to come home. Funny thing was, I never thought it as being the end of the day. I simply looked for when I would have an opening at work big enough for me to drive home and open my laptop so that I could continue working. I did this for over 3 years and worked 80 to 100 hours every week. I used to work my normal 40-50 hours in the office and another 40-50 hours in a data center during maintenance windows or working from home.  Looking back, those were very stressful times. It impacted my time with the family as well as my performance level at work. 

So, let’s look at why an engineer would get burned out from working all those crazy hours and what contributed to them. Here are just a few reasons the industry needs to worry about burn out.

  • Unrealistic Expectations – every company seems to have projects based on perceived timelines.   You might say that you can stand up an application (VM Instance, networking, documentation, configuration, connectivity, etc.) in 3 weeks. This allows for everyone to work ‘normal’ hours and do their due diligences. However, most of the time, that 3 weeks was condensed into a week or less based on other factors outside of our control. 
  • Understaffing – with the “do more with less” mentality that companies have lately, we seem to all be understaffed. That doesn’t mean the workload decreases, it only means our pressure increases and more hours and duties are added to your day.
  • Doing more than one job – when your coworkers leave, you often have to pick up the workload with the remaining coworkers while they look for a replacement. Numerous companies either do not open that position up for a replacement or only open it to a junior position even if it’s the most senior person to leave.
  • Mental Health – often this is overlooked. Cybersecurity engineers are under enormous amount of pressure to protect the company’s assets. And if everything goes well, no one notices but if it doesn’t go well, everybody notices. The stress has a lasting effect on us. I, personally, lost two people to suicide, a friend and a coworker. While I cannot prove that was the reason, I can tell you that my friend definitely felt the pressure.

Now I know not everyone will burn out and walk away or switch jobs. But how do you reduce that burnout rate, while maintaining your company standards. This is where AlgoSec Security Management Suite can help. Our solution can alleviate the need for cybersecurity engineers to spend time reviewing or implementing application / firewall changes. Let’s think back on my bullet points above as to how we can help.

  • Unrealistic Expectations – we can now help the engineer and company make changes to an application or firewall in minutes rather than days or weeks. The best part though, it documents every step and doesn’t compromise your security practices.
  • Understaffing – you’ll now have a tool that removes the need for your staff to research and review every change needed. AlgoSec’s solution will alert the team if a review is needed.
  • Doing more than one job – you may still have to do more than one job, but you’ll at least have less tasks to do with automating the change process.
  • Mental Health – cybersecurity engineers love to learn new technologies and implement solutions they know will help their organization in the long run. Using AlgoSec will help them to utilize a solution that will aide them in the future. But in reference to help with Mental health, I don’t think any solution can help here. We really need better support from the companies to support a better work/life balance. 

So, what am I really trying to say? Using AlgoSec’s Security Management Suite to automate your application and firewall changes can really help reduce the overall workload placed on your cybersecurity engineers and increase their productivity with more important tasks. Thus, giving them a better sense of accomplishment and a better work/life balance at the same time.

Want to see it in action? Ask us for a personal demo.

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